“Introverts can find networking intimidating because of all the louder extroverts in the room trying to sell themselves,” author Stefan Thomas says in The Guardian. “But introverts make the best networkers because they’re good listeners and tend to be more interested in other people than about talking about themselves.”
By harnessing their strengths, introverts can excel in an area that appears to be dominated by more outgoing personalities.
It’s in the Approach
“There is more than one path to success” in networking, author Jacqueline Whitmore says in Entrepreneur. “Networking events, however, tend to be designed for a particular personality — the ‘work hard, play hard,’ never-met-a-stranger type. Rooms filled with crowds of people — not to mention the pressure to be interesting and likeable — is enough to give most introverts sweaty palms.”
Introverts can approach networking events in a different way. One part is recognizing what’s important. Networking isn’t tantamount to talking with groups of strangers all at once in a high-pressure environment. Rather, networking is about making connections.
Another aspect to networking for introverts is being aware of what they have to offer. They can “relax, plan ahead and let their true personalities shine through,” Whitmore says.
Networking Tips for Introverts
Introverts can become successful at networking by preparing and playing to their strengths, which can help make networking less stressful and forced. Here are some networking strategies for introverts at events.
Introduce Yourself Over Social Media Before the Event
Social media makes introducing yourself easier. “Reach out via LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook to people who will be attending conferences or networking events you’re going to and let them know you’re looking forward to meeting them,” leadership strategist Lisa Petrilli advises in Harvard Business Review. “This pre-introduction leads to a more relaxed and productive in-person connection.”
Seek Out Conversations Individually
“Some of the best ‘networkers’ I’ve seen skip cocktail party chatter entirely in favor of direct, one-on-one conversations,” entrepreneur Jeff Giesea says on LinkedIn. “One-on-ones can be a win-win scenario: ‘the receiver’ feels chosen and gets their ego stroked, while the ‘requestor’ successfully avoids an awkward group scenario and can develop rapport faster. The bonus? Both are pretty much guaranteed a more meaningful conversation.”
Other people typically like talking about themselves. Creating some open-ended questions can help guide the conversation and allow other people to do the talking. You should prepare what you’ll say about yourself, when the subject is you and what you do. Practice what you’ll discuss in advance so you’re more comfortable.
Take a Break to Recharge
Know when it’s time to take a break or leave. “Being a good networker is also about judging when it is time to move on,” according to The Guardian. “If you are feeling really awkward, look to make an exit by saying you need to use the facilities or get another drink.”
Challenge Yourself to Make One Quality Connection
It’s easy to get caught up in how you need to make several contacts, but try not to “psych yourself out with unrealistic expectations,” Whitmore says. “You may not meet 20 new contacts or impress others with your best joke — and that’s okay. One quality conversation is more beneficial than 20 superficial ones.”
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